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Ericsson announced this week that it is advancing its 5G core network security for communications service providers (CSPs) through the launch of the cloud native Ericsson Packet Core Firewall.

Core network security is a key factor in CSPs’ forward business planning as they pursue innovative new business opportunities powered by 5G and emerging technologies.

Ericsson’s new solution, part of the Ericsson 5G platform, is aimed at enabling CSPs to pursue those opportunities not only through the best packet core network security capabilities, but also in the most cost-effective way for their business.

Powered by A10 Networks’ advanced security technology, the Ericsson Packet Core Firewall solution is already seamlessly integrated with Ericsson Packet Core Gateway in Ericsson’s dual-mode 5G Core offering. The solution also supports end-to-end network slicing and edge computing.

The company notes that the cloud native offering is optimized to scale with user plane to the edge of the network to cater for secure core network 5G use cases. By protecting a communications service provider’s core network - including sensitive service provider data and customer data – the all-in-one solution secures 5G service availability.

They add that solution delivers more than 50 percent total cost of ownership reduction over dedicated user plane security solutions, while maintaining 5G latency. This is enabled through a single CNF (Cloud Native Network Function) solution with simplified maintenance and orchestration.

Folke Anger, Head of Packet Core Solutions, Ericsson, says: “Securing service availability in 5G requires a holistic view beyond dedicated security solutions. We are now launching the Ericsson Packet Core Firewall seamlessly integrated into our Packet Core Gateway. This will provide our customers with substantial total cost of ownership improvements while ensuring their 5G services to the edge.”

Changing our thinking and transitioning

Patrick Donegan, Founder and Principal Analyst at HardenStance, says: “Telecom operators need to think differently about how they implement security with a 5G Core. Ericsson’s Packet Core Gateway together with Packet Core Firewall integrates user plane and security functions in a single Cloud native Network Function (CNF). This allows significant TCO savings and is well optimized for edge use cases. It also enables automated, closed-loop, threat mitigation independent of transport equipment vendor.”

Dhrupad Trivedi, CEO and Board Chair, A10 Networks, says: “Mobile operators are transitioning to more cloud native and distributed architectures to support 5G. This increases the critical need for security and network availability. A10 is excited to expand our partnership with Ericsson to enable current and emerging 5G use cases. The Ericsson Packet Core Firewall powered by A10 Networks is ready for cloud native deployments and addresses the evolving business needs for operators.”

Why this development matters

Zeina El Sheikh , Regional Public and Media Relations for Ericsson Middle East and Africa, noted that global 5G deployments are well under way as we go deeper into 2020. 5G is the next generation of wireless technology and is key to empowering new services and use cases for people, businesses, and society at large. As 5G offers greater throughput and lower latency, it will bring more use cases to Internet of Things (IoT), enabling massive connectivity and allowing new applications for consumers and enterprises such as smart vehicles and transport architecture, remote healthcare and new levels of human-IoT, she says.

She adds that Ericsson is a technology leader in 5G. “Pioneering customers select us as their 5G partner and we power commercial live networks across five continents.”

This includes multiple service providers in the North America, Asia, Europe, as well as in Australia and Africa. “We have 109 commercial 5G agreements or contracts with unique service providers, of which 61 are live networks,” she says.

She adds that Ericsson was announced as an MTN South Africa vendor in November 2019, to deploy products and solutions spanning its radio access network (RAN) Ericsson Radio System, transport and 5G Core network portfolios. Ericsson will also deploy Ericsson Spectrum Sharing for them.

In June this year, MTN South Africa went live with commercial 5G in Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth. Telma Madagascar has also switched on its 5G commercial network in multiple cities in Madagascar, offering subscribers high-speed services enabled by the new generation of mobile connectivity. The Ericsson-powered 5G network is now live at 16 sites, and will further expand to five more sites during the course of 2020. 

“In Africa, the evolution from 4G into 5G could be a powerful economic growth engine, particularly as this advanced mobile technology is deployed looking into improving productivity in key vertical industrial sectors,” she concludes.

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